Tall poppy-seed syndrome

This classic malapropism is one I missed when I listed my favourites a few months back, but thanks to a faithful reader (well… casual reader) it got me thinking about the real culture of the “Tall Poppy Syndrome” in Australia. What is it about Aussies? For a country that loves to be considered “down to earth” and “easy going”, gees we’ve got some hang ups…

Research (don’t ask me which or where) has proven over and over that negativity holds people back from reaching their full potential. How many of us have been derided by school “friends”, older siblings or dead-beat parents for reading books, getting good marks in school, or just generally being a smart-alec? My hand is firmly up. Did I care? Not really. Did it stop me putting all my effort into excelling at the things I was good at? Maybe.

The list of people we have tried to drag down is longer than the Nullabor Highway – Greg Norman, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Paul Hogan, Shane Warne, Kylie Minogue etc etc. The fact that none of these people calls Australia home anymore is likely evidence of the effect we’ve had on them.

I heard this story many years ago from a visiting American, after he had finally managed to get his head around this perplexing phenomenon:

Two guys are each driving a Ferrari down the main street of their home towns, one is American, the other is Australian. In both cases, people come out to see the car go past, because a Ferrari is not often seen in those parts. After a short while, both cars come to a red light. In the American version of the story, cars pull up alongside the Ferrari, and young men hang out the side windows, drooling and saying things like “Whoa, man, nice wheels…” and “Awesome dude, where did you get that car?”. Sadly, in the Australian town, a beat up old ute pulls up along side the Ferrari, and several guys lean over and give their opinion of the guy in the hot seat. “Ah yah wanker…”, “piss orf back to wherever you came from dickhead…”

Why can’t we just be happy for people who succeed? Another person’s success doesn’t have to mean our own life has been a failure. We can all succeed in different ways.

If Australia is suffering a brain drain at the moment – and I’m keeping Gen Y out of this discussion LOL – we only have ourselves to blame.

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